Dear Laborers, Security Guards, Stay at home moms, People in the Office; everyone. Thank you.

Over at ILQ HQ, we’re always trying to think of fun and new ways of getting our message accross to people. Yeah we can do the usual Tweet or Facebook post, but I think that people appreciate the extra effort put into creating guides, microsites, and videos.

For National Day 2013, His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani shared something with everyone. It was going to be about #onelove and making an effort to show appreciation to the expat community here in the country. After all, we’re all coming together to build the future of this nation and help achieve Qatar’s 2030 vision.

With the video, of course we couldn’t cover all segments, but we wanted to highlight the contruction worker, the security guards, the western workers and the Qataris all coming together. Together, we’re building Qatar.

I should mention that the people in the video are considered twitter and online friends, I myself have friends from all national and occupational background. The message in this video, is that we need to support each other. We need to appreciate each other.

Oh and one more thing… Thank you.

All About Qatar National Day – A day to feel pride

Qatar is building on the number of events to celebrate National Day year on year. There are a number of huge milestones and events that have lead up to this as well. Qatar’s definitely in the spotlight thanks to mega event after event (World Cup, COP18, Arab Spring involvement, Katara expansions, etc… etc…) and Doha will continue to shine bright as long as changes keep happening.

Why are Qataris so proud? Well we haven’t had that much to be proud of for a long time. Our Emir has brought so much change and development to Qatar that it’s something to almost brag about. A typical Qatari will gladly sacrifice a lot for his country. The Emir has done so much to make our lives better, so why don’t we lift the burden off of his shoulders a bit and try to help?

So whether you’re Qatari, American, British, Indian, Philipino, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese, Pakistani, Chinese or any other nationality (let’s face it, Qatar is a melting pot of diversity), please celebrate National Day with us! Let happiness flow through you like a rush of energy. Think positive and have hope for a fantastic future. Think of each firework that goes off on December 18 as the sound of the country’s heartbeat. WE are Qatar.

One common question I’m asked is how is it that Qatar changed National Day’s date? It never changed. They’re thinking of Independence day, which is on the 3rd of September. Here’s some more info about National Day (from QatarNationalDay.qa):

On 18 December 1878, Sheikh Jassem bin Mohamed bin Thani succeeded his father as the ruler of Qatar. With that, Qatar became a country with a vision… a country that would find unity, grow rapidly, and reach toward ever higher heights.

National Day, also known as Founder’s Day, celebrates the rise of Sheikh Jassem as the father and founder of the State of Qatar. And yet this holiday is a mere two years old: it was founded in 2007 to give people an occasion to honour the history and identity of their country, and to commemorate those who have worked and continue to work to make Qatar a great nation.

The 18th of December is a special day – a day of unity for the people of Qatar. We want you to be a part of it!

This year, the country is making an extra effort to thank the expat community here too for all their hard work to make Qatar a better place :)

We’re working hard on www.qatarnationalday.qa again this year (5th year now?) so you can find all the events and great content for National Day.  Until then we’ve got a temporary list going, click here for Qatar National Day event list 2013

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Have an event or activity you want to make sure is listed? Drop the team an email at contact@iloveqatar.net


Mr. Q visits Korea (Three Episodes) – A Qatari guy visits Korea

Some people have been following my Vlogs for a while now. I’ve had quite a few going on, from talking about waste dump in the Pearl, to episodes in Japan. I’ve now put together the first two episodes of a three parter called Mr. Q visits Korea. It’s interesting for most people not only because you get to see what’s happening from a Qatari’s point of view, but a lot of people might be interested in Korea in general too. By the way, I recommend visiting the country, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to visit again!

Is there another country you want me to visit? If so, drop me a comment in the comments section below. Also, please don’t forget to subscribe, thumbs up and share the videos, it helps keep me going and shows me that you appreciate what I’m putting together.

 

Episode 1 (Gangnam Style and the Loneliest pigeon in the world.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIua35u2IUM
 

Episode 2 (Tiny little baby Octopus and Poo bread)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT2cm-q0_LI
 

Episode 3 coming soon.

You can also see more videos by visiting the iLoveQatar channel. Thank you again for helping the channel pass 1.2 MILLION views!

[Vlog] Mr. Q visits Korea – Ep. 1 – Gangnam Time

First of all, I just wanted to thank all you people who have been encouraging me to keep going with my vlogs. What do you prefer? The Vlogs or the Blogs? (Maybe both?)

Remember, sharing, commenting, leaving me a thumbs up, those things keeps me going :)

Thanks to your views, I’ve managed to hit the legendary 301+ on YouTube for my Korea video!

Don’t know why 301+ is special? It means that you’re getting a flood of views, so YouTube freezes it at 301+ for a while for protection.

Mr. Q Visits Korea

I decided to go on down to Korea with a couple of bros.
After all, it’s the ‘IT’ country right now right? (I mean it, not I.T.)
I checked out a bit of the night, digital screens, Gangnam Kabab, and this super lonely pigeon.

 

Ramadan Mubarak everyone! (We’ve got Tents, Events, and more!) – Ramadan 2013

Ramadan Mubarak! Mubarik Alaykum il shahar.

I hope that everyone has a great Ramadan period, and whether you are Muslim or not, there’s a lot to do in Qatar during this time.

www.ramadan.qa (also accessed at www.Ramadan-Mubarak.com) has launched and it’s even bigger and better than last year’s effort.

Three years ago, we launched a real first…our site got lots of attention by helping people find out about all the wonderful things happening during Ramadan in Qatar. So we had a challenge: How do we take what we did and make it even MORE useful year on year? This year we’ve partnered up with Vodafone again as well as got some support from Katara and QF Radio!

The beauty of www.ramadan.qa is that it’s so simple. Not only is it easy to navigate but there are some great features!

We’re Mobile & Appified!
It only made sense to create a mobile version of the site. The next evolution was to launch an App for iOS and Android. We’re almost there! We took www.ramadan.qa and shrunk the site into a useful mobile tool. It looks and feels like an app as well for those that don’t want to download the app! So get tap-tap-tapping on your smartphones! Don’t have one? Don’t worry, the mobile version works on most devices! :)  Oh and if you’re a Vodafone customer, it’s free to visit the site!

We’ve got an app for that!
Whether you are on the site or on your mobile, we’ve got a list of great Ramadan-related apps to download. We’ve listed apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberries, AND we’ve added OVI support. Just click your favourite app’s icon to download!

We’re Dynamic!
The website’s background changes depending on the time of day.
☾ In the morning the sky is dim and a sun rises
☾ During the day the sun shines bright, birds fly around and the wind gently sways the hanging lanterns
☾ For sunset—and because it’s so rare for us to enjoy a beautiful one in real life—our site’s sunset begins 15 minutes before night, so if you’re lucky enough to be on our website at exactly the right time you’ll see a brilliant orange sky.
☾ When it’s time to break your fast, the moon pops out, the lanterns light up, and the stars twinkle.
☾ We’ve also got some fun messages that pop up while you’re on the site. “Whoa, it’s hot outside!”

Why is this special?
Because it’s a fun way of letting people know when its time to break their fast! Don’t have a calendar? Have a calendar but don’t know what time it is? Just visit the site and if you see the moon, you can break your fast. It’s also a tool for kids!

We’re social!
☾ Sharing is caring:
You’ll notice Twitter, Facebook, the ‘Like’ button, and the new Google +1 button on the site. So sharing the site is extremely simple! Go ahead! Click on our LIKE and +1 buttons.
☾ Tents and Events:
-During Ramadan many people meet up at night at various tents and events to be together and socialize. If you’re looking for a calendar of events, then our site is here for you. Our calendar will constantly be updated as we get wind of more events!
-Last year people asked for more events besides simply the ones at hotels, and so we’re working hard to get as much as possible on there! Got an event yourself? Let us know so we can add it to the site!

Send an eCard!
We’ve created some very nice and colorful Ramadan cards for you to send out to family and friends. All you need to do is select your image, type in your message, position the message so that it’s in just the right spot, and click send!
Love the card? You can save it in MMS format so that you can transfer it to your mobile and send it to anyone through your mobile!
Don’t see an image you like? You can upload your OWN image and send it out as an ecard!
We love choices!

Ramadan 101
We know that some people might not know what Ramadan is all about, so we’ve included an “About Ramadan” tab on the site. If you want to brush up on your understanding of Ramadan, then visit this section for: when it is, what it’s about, dates and times, tips about eating, drinking and smoking, dress code, and other special considerations.

Convenient Prayer and Iftar times!
We’ve tried to make your life as easy as possible when it comes to knowing when to pray and when to break your fast.
☾ We’ve got a full Ramadan calendar on our site
☾ You can download the calendar to your phone or desktop
☾ You can register to receive SMS notifications
☾ You can pick up a pocket calendar in store
Prayers, Quran Verses, and Tips Via SMS

As a new addition this year, Vodafone customers can also subscribe to receive daily prayers and verses from the Quran, audio clips, tips and recipes during the holy month of Ramadan.

Hilal: Receive a prayer, hadith, oandDua.
Text 1 to 97244 to receive this package every day for a month for only QR20

Badir: Receive a prayer, hadith, dua, and an audio file.
Text 2 to 97244 to receive this package every day for a month for only QR30

Sihatik: Receive a daily health tip for FREE.
Text Sihatik to 97799 to receive this message every day for a month for FREE.



2013 list of Qatar / Qatari bloggers

Qatar Bloggers

It’s about time I put this list together. It’s been tough finding people who still blog regularly. If you want to get added to this list, just leave a comment in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to add it. Want to add a description to your blog? Let me know too.

Vani Saraswathi (@vanish_forever)
The Life of Ummhttp://ummon.wordpress.com/

Kelly Johnstone (@kelly_johnstone)
Under the Doha Sunhttp://underthedohasun.wordpress.com/

Maria (@boulderhijabi)
BoulderHijabihttp://boulderhijabiindoha.blogspot.com/
Just another American hijabi out in the wilds of Qatar! Just trying to be controversial to spark discussion, something we could all use a little more of!! Peace and love always. (Her words not mine!)

Nat High (@nat_high)
Bright Lights, Little Cityhttp://littlecityblog.wordpress.com/
Love this guy’s blog (Even though I’m not on his blog roll!). Interesting observations around Doha.

Skeptic in Qatarhttp://qatarskeptic.blogspot.com/
Glen McKay moved to Qatar in 2006 and from around 2008 has been blogging about, everything really.

Flip Stewart (@Flip_stewart)
Flip Thinks – http://flipthinks.wordpress.com/
Good reads, but TERRIBLE theme! Change it!Hooray! She’s changed her theme!

Velvet (@velevetgarvey)
Must Love Dusthttp://www.mustlovedust.com/
I really like this blog. It’s designed well, categorized well, written well. The two sections which are quite unique to any site let alone blog are “Where can I find” and “Newbie Tuesdays”.

Christine Gerber Rutt (@justkookie1)
Just Kooki - http://justkooki.com/
Very nice person by the way, quite social on twitter. She talks about stuff that’s typically what the only community is buzzing about. Only thing that’s difficult about the blog is getting around. Needs better categorization.

In Dohahttp://indoha.wordpress.com/
Not only does this person go around an explore Doha but he/she (don’t know the person) takes some really nice photos.

Rizza Lana (@rizzalana)
My Demeanourhttp://rizzalana.blogspot.com/

Layla Al Siyabi (@LAS_Fashion)
Creative Nationhttp://creativenationgcc.wordpress.com/
Run by Omran and Layla Al Siyabi, an Omani couple living in Qatar.

Rachel C (@funkyblog)
The Funky Qatar Blog - http://funkyqatarblog.com
This blog can be a bit confusing at first. Is it a blog? Is it a portal? However, trust me when I say that it’s part of the experience. You know how when you find a drawer full of stuff and you start sifting through and find some awesome things you didn’t expect to? This is the blog equivalent.

Nailya Bentley (@scaryazeri)
Scary Azeri - http://scaryazeri.blogspot.com/
I first wondered what this person must look like due to the title. I then started to think of words that rhyme with Azeri (perhaps that was the best word). Anyway! This Azeri (that’s someone from Azerbaijan) talks about her life in general.

Qatari Bloggers (who blog in English):

Khawla (@kawkawii)
Kawkawiihttp://www.kawkawii.net/
This is quite an unusual blog since it’s in both English and Arabic. About Food, Fashion and Hair

Myself (but I don’t need to list myself do I?)

That’s pretty much it, the ones that used to blog, stopped. Do you know any more?

Oh and if you’ve got a blog roll, don’t forget to add me to it :)

Kite surfing – Qatari Style

I had to share this awesomeness by fellow EO member Khalifa Al Misnad.

THIS is Kite surfing; Qatari Style.

ILQ Minis – Moh’d Fahad Kamal – Qatari Standup

I thought I’d share three clips added to the ILQ YouTube channel.
iLoveQatar.net helped put together Qatar’s first ever comedy marathon and the crowd loved Qatari standup comedian Moh’d Fahad Kamal’s routines :)

I Cancel your Visa

Guys Kissing

No Speak English

A special Qatar National Day site for 2011 and new Qatari talent!

For the past three years (well this is the third year) we’ve put together a very special National Day event site. It started in the end of 2008 (when we officially started working on iLoveQatar) and then we got the support from Vodafone to turn the experience into something prettier. I didn’t want to simply give people an events listing page and figured that with all the traffic going to the site (last year we had around 20,000 unique visitors in around 10 days) we should be doing something helpful!

So we started promoting Qatari talent. In 2009 we promoted Rayana, an amazingly talented singer. A small girl with a big voice. In 2010 we promoted Moh’d Kamal, Qatar’s first Qatari stand up comedian. This year we’re promoting a bunch of Qatari cartoonists, each with their own style! So far we’ve got @fatoomworld @wse7en @iba7r and @mana_qtr . Many of them contribute to www.qartoon.org

So if you’re looking for some quick info on what National Day is all about, a great events guide, and want to check out some great Qatari talent, then check out www.qatarnationalday.qa (yep we’ll be using that domain from now on so bookmark it!). Oh and guess what? You’ve got a chance to also win 10,000 QR from Vodafone! Head on over to the National Day and click on the competition tab to find out more :)

See also:

A day to be proud of

Qatar National Day 2010 is coming!

My thoughts on the salary increases for (some) Qataris

Now that the frenzy has ended, I’ve been asked by quite a few people to share my thoughts on the recent salary increases. I’ll start this off by answering some of the most common questions I got.

Mr. Q! You’re rich now! When are you getting that Ferrari?
First of all no I’m not. Second of all, it’s a Porsche -_- On a serious note NOT all Qataris got the salary increase!

 

So who does the salary increase apply to?
It’s not really black and white. It was initially given to government employees. That meant that those in the private sector weren’t part of the salary increase. However since the annoucement, a lot of companies in the private sector have followed suit. 1) It does make them look good to follow an Emiri Decree and 2) Some didn’t really have a choice (mostly the larger private entities).

Ok tell us, how much did Qataris in the government get?
For state civilian employees they got a 60% increase on their basic salary and social allowance
For Military  personnel it’s a 50% increase on their basic and social allowance
For  Military personnel of an officer rank, they get a 120% increase on their basic and social allowance.

Nice huh? Makes you want to think about joining the army.

No seriously, how much did Qataris REALLY get?
It’s no joke. Don’t believe me? Check out Emiri decision No. 50 of 2011.

So that’s over DOUBLE their salary!
Wrong! It’s 60% of BASIC and SOCIAL. Let’s say your salary is 10k. Your basic is 4k. Your social is 1k. Your remainder salary is made up of housing, transportation, etc… In this case you get 60% of 5k. That’s 3k or a 30% pay increase overall. Of course this is just an example

Anything else you want to mention?
It’s not just salaries. Government employees also get their pensions to go up by 60% and Military by 50% or 120% depending on their rank.

Why did they do this… It doesn’t make sense!
A lot of things don’t make sense in this world, but there’s actually a good reason for all of this!  First of all, lets start from the beginning. Government employees actually had their salaries ‘balanced’ two years ago to comply with their new grading scheme. For some people it was great, for others… it made life really tough. If you were a junior staff at 15k, you could have been dropped to as low as 7k per month. That’s a 50% decrease. Some people’s salaries went up though but only by a small margin. So if you look at the 60% pay increase, they’re probably back to where they were. Of course I’m talking about the people who were affected negatively. To be honest, many people especially in the Military were known to have received extremely low salaries and they definitely did deserve more.

How much is this going to cost the government then?
A cool 10 billion riyals a year (that doesn’t include the extra 10 billion given to the pensions fund and 10 billion to the retirees’ subscriptions.

How do you feel about this Mr. Q?
You want to know? Well I’ve got mixed emotions to be honest.

Now here are my thoughts from a number of different angles…

As a citizen, it’s great to know that the government is there to take care of it’s people. It’s nice to feel that my country care about government officials so much. I do think that it would have been great to have spent 10billion riyals on training government workers so that they could work much more effectively though (just thinking about my own experience with simple processes here). The cost of living has definitely increased significantly in the passed few years. Building a house is near impossible and a decent price anymore.

However as someone who works in the private sector,I’m left thinking, “What about me?”. I studied hard. I went to university to get my degree. I came back and worked in the private sector. I proved that I was a hard worker, dedicated, and was set to prove that Qataris are ready to make a difference in the world. So why aren’t I being rewarded as well? In fact, are we giving the wrong message to the new generation? Come and get a cushy government job. Aren’t we trying to build a knowledge based economy? One that will encourage start ups, Qatari entrepreneurs, and see a growth in SMEs? Why would a youngster create his own businesses now when he can get a great salary working in a government job? Despite all of that, I’m still left thinking “what about me?”.

As someone who cares about the economy, a couple of days after the announcement, shops didn’t waste their time. I received BBM notifications constantly about the different shops that raised their prices. The government had already threatened companies with fines if they raised their prices and also set up a hotline for people to report it, but that didn’t stop many. Car washes raised their prices, restaurants raised their prices, cold stores raised their prices, everybody was doing it! Some people said, “It’s only a couple of riyals”, no it’s not! It all ads up! This my dear friends is what causes INFLATION. Many Qataris started to complain about this; online forums, BBM, and the newspapers published article after article of examples in price rises. Well if the people who got the pay rise are complaining, what about the Qataris or the exapts that didn’t get the pay rise?

What I don’t understand is why didn’t the just give government employees a pay rise quietly? Alright it might have been difficult to contain that one, but what about Kuwait’s solution? They got rid of Kuwaiti’s debts (up to a certain amount). I’m pretty sure that would have helped out more, and would have been fairer on all of us.

From the point of view of a private business owner, there are LOADS of problems here; Qatarization was hard enough! Now companies have to compete with the government too! I don’t really want to think about this one…. Let’s start with listed companies, they have a duty and a responsibility to share-holders. If a private company increases Qataris salaries, that dips into the shareholders pockets. It would be fair to say that it would be in the companies best interest NOT to hire Qataris to reduce cost (that can’t happen though since Qatarization is not an option). I’ll give you a really simple example. You own a business that sells Land Cruisers (had to slip that one in. Heh.). Everything’s going well, but now you have to cut into your own profits to increase your employees salaries. They’re not really doing any more work than they signed up for. Inflation is only up by 10% but you have to give them 60% increase. Now the funny thing is, you understand where I’m going with here, but I’ll bet you still want to be that person with the 60% pay increase. Am I right? Don’t worry, it’s human nature.

Point of view of the expat, “That’s not fair, what about us? We work harder than Qataris! We deserve more too!”, the people scream on one particular forum that shall not be named. You know what I say to them? Don’t like it? Tough! I’m sorry but it really gets my blood boiling. I feel like Qatar is the only country in the world where some expats (Most of the ones I personally know are awesome btw!) discriminate against the locals! They come to Qatar, live quite a comfortable life, more comfortable than back where they live, their governments probably tax the hell out of them, and then they complain that they deserve more. Think about this logically, wherever you are from and imagine that a foreigner comes to your country and feels entitled to more; not the same (I believe in equality), but more than the locals…

I’m sorry but shouldn’t you be demanding more from your own country? Looks to me that we’re in a new age where the new saying is “Ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you.” and not the other way around.

 

So what should those who got the pay rise do now? Splurge? Obviously not. The best thing would be for them to invest their new income in something that will give them a safe future. I don’t know put it in a savings account, invest in stocks, start your own little business, SOMETHING, that doesn’t encourage un-necessary inflation please!

 

I’ll end this quick piece with with what one of my favourite users on ILQ said (TimeBandit), and I think it sums it all up nicely.

“Hey I don’t pay tax, so I don’t care what the government does with its money. I just want a job, on commission, working for a car dealership ASAP.”

 

You might also be interested in:

Qatars are all rich – the myth

I envy Bahrainis

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.